Suzuki Kanna is a powerhouse woman with single-minded devotion once she puts her mind to something. Working for a fashion designer, her dream is to someday design clothes that will make women everywhere amazingly attractive.” But her world begins to spin out of control when she discovers that her “loving” hunk of a husband, Rei, is having an affair! Meanwhile, her unreasonable boss dumps loads of work, her husband is a mama’s boy and her mother-in-law drops in unannounced to dote on her son and grandson, and all while Kanna is trying to raise a needy 4-year-old son, Reon. Pushed to a breaking point and battling the world alone, Kanna, however, isn’t one to run, bend or break. Instead, she girds herself for battle, stokes her inner fire and confronts adversity head on, chasing her dream in pursuit of happiness and fulfillment for herself and her son.
Cast & Credits
Let's start by saying that I love Naomi Watanabe. A recurring problem I have with her dramas is that she's either most often pushed to the side as a supporting character/comic relief or, when she's lead, they tend to not let her shine in what she does best. For example, Five Star Tourist was a really good drama that I enjoyed a lot but they hid her behind a pretty bad wig, dull clothes and a personality that didn't let her do the most she could do. This drama lets her be 100% unapologetically herself: Kanna is funny, outspoken, stylish, everything we all love about her. And the plot doesn't revolve around her being plus size, another very recurrent issue in dramas that star plus size leads. She's also playing a fashion designer, on top of that, which is fantastic, considering she has her own clothing line in real life. So far so good.
Another great thing about the drama is that Kanna's relationships with female characters are very complex and interesting. Even the ladies that start being seen as "rivals" end up developing in something less archetypal and more human, which allows for her character to develop as well with these relationships. To be honest, some of these ladies (at least 3 that I counted) end up having more developed relationships with her than the male characters they pair her up with.
Now, if that would have been the drama (which is what the plot up there makes it out to be), if it had been all about Kanna facing life as a divorced mother with a dream to fulfill and bills to pay and facing the world through friendships and heartbreaks one day at a time, that would have been great. But enter the entire plot of Kaname Jun's character, Kanna's cheating husband, Rei (and his god awful parents).
My main issue with Rei's character, believe it or not, isn't that he's a terrible person (you need to read the plot or watch just episode 1 to see that). My problem is that they attempt, throughout the series, to give him a redemption arc, without actually focusing on him understanding his mistakes but just saying that he does and trying to fix them with money and things. It is possible to have redemption arcs with these kinds of characters without compromising the agency of the female lead or the aim of the story. A good example of this is Mondai No Aru Restaurant or even Mother Game, where the reason why the jerk guy faces his mistakes is because he finally understands empathy and sees what he's putting the female character through, but that does not immediately grant them forgiveness (Mondai No Aru Restaurant handled it amazingly well with Higashide Masahiro's character). Rei's arc is about karma punishing him, more so than empathy, so the audience would feel sorry enough for his poor soul to forgive him out of sheer pity rather than having him actually show his understanding of what he's done, besides trying to fix it with material things and empty words.
From any other drama, I would have probably let it pass with an epic eye-roll and a huge sigh. If this was yet another Ishihara Satomi/Kiritani Mirei josei drama of the last few years, I would have expected that sort of thing. But this was Naomi Watanabe kicking butt, being a strong female lead, inspiring me to keep going, and it deserved better than weak male leads raining on the plot's parade. And I'm not even gonna talk much about the character of Rei's mother, but picture the worst mother in law you've seen in a josei adaptation and multiply her annoyance times 10.
The acting is pretty good in this drama, it's very well directed, the clothes Naomi wears are fantastic (the ones she designs, I'm not so sure), it has emotional moments and funny moments, strong friendships and cool female characters, it's overall enjoyable. It just could have been so much more of that without wasting its time in an arc that went against the idea of the story.
I'll keep waiting for the drama that 100% is what Naomi Watanabe deserves as a lead.